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'Disgusted, upset and angry' - publicans hit out at further closure

 

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Grogans pub is still closed

Grogans pub is still closed

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Grogans pub is still closed

The Cobblestone's owner Tom Mulligan said he was left reeling with the devastating news that Dublin's 'wet pubs' couldn't re-open next Monday after six months of closure.

"This is our fourth time that we've been told we can't open.

"It's only five days before we were due to re-open that they told us we can't re-open so we're devastated and frustrated," he told the Herald.

"I can't understand how eating a €9 sandwich would make it any safer to avoid Covid than somebody drinking a pint of beer? It doesn't really make any sense."

The owner of the popular traditional music bar in Smithfield was due to put in their order with a brewery yesterday so it would arrive on Friday in time for their first Monday open in over six months.

Frustrated

"We had everything else in except our Guinness order; we were going to the cash-and-carry and we had staff lined up to come in on Sunday for a PowerPoint presentation and a last-minute pep talk," he said.

"We're just frustrated and bored as well, six months down the line. I feel we can keep customers every bit as curtailed and corralled as much as a food-serving pub because we don't even have the distraction of the food."

The pub industry has accused the Government of breaking its commitment to so-called 'wet pubs' amid concern over the surge in Covid-19 cases in the capital.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) stated the move to delay the reopening of Dublin's 'wet pubs' was an "empty gesture, backed by hollow words from a Government that broke its commitment to non-food pubs again".

Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said: "Where is the scientific justification for this decision?

"This isn't a remedy to the current increase in infections in Dublin. This has all the hallmarks of wanting to be seen to take action, when, in reality, it does nothing to address the current problem.

"But it does have the impact of further penalising publicans, staff, suppliers and all their families. That is the one actual outcome from this decision.

"This Government and Nphet take zero action against those parts of society which have caused clusters such as meat factories or direct provision centres, yet they continue to punish pubs, whose doors have been kept shut for more than six months by order of the Government.

"Pubs are paying the price for the repeated shortfalls in the Government's capacity to handle this crisis."

Daniel Smith, from Grogans pub in the city centre said: "We are disgusted, upset, angry."

This government has shown time and time again, they don't care about us."

Mr Smith told RTÉ's Liveline that last week publicans had been told they wouldn't be treated differently with regards to restrictions - only to receive the closure news for the fourth time during the pandemic.

"It's very hard to have faith in anything this Government says," he added, after the capital's publicans were told they would not be allowed to open on September 21.

Unclear

Mr Smith said if necessary, his pubs would now be looking at implementing a food option to allow the business to reopen.

"They are providing unclear messaging," Mr Smith said.

"People's livelihoods hang on this. There's plenty of pubs open in Dublin. Why are we being treated differently to a pub that serves a €9 meal?"

Noel Anderson from the LVA said publicans "are extremely upset."

Mr Anderson, MD of Lemon and Duke bar in Dublin, told Liveline: "I've had a number of publicans nearly in tears.

"This is the fourth time they've been led up the hill, it feels like they've been marched over the hill without a parachute. It's hard to know what their issue is at this point.

"A publican said to me his mortgage is due next month, he's gone past his moratorium.

"How are these publicans going to pay for their mortgages?"

This the fourth time the reopening of non-food pubs in Dublin has been delayed after being pushed back from July 20, then August 10 and August 31.